Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Slice of Life: Word Wanderings and March Countdown

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, BethAnna, Kathleen, and Deb
                   for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

Do you ever stumble across a word that you've read often in print, but don't have the slightest idea how to pronounce?  That's a perfect example of when my friend M-W (Merriam Webster) comes to the rescue.  It happened last Friday.  I was reading "The Californian's Tale" by Mark Twain to a group of 8th graders when the word, dauguerotype, appeared before my eyes.  (The story was new to me and a delight to share with the students.  We started class with Dorianne Laux's poem "On the Back Porch," read  "The Californian's Tale," and ended with Jane Yolen's picture book, The Stranded Whale.)  (I adore being subversive and sneaking in poems and picture books into other teacher's lesson plans.)  (I couldn't remember the title of Yolen's book, so I googled stranded at sea because I knew it had stranded in the title.  Oops!  Way too many hits, so I revised the search to "stranded at sea jane yolen.")  (Did you know that auto correct switches Yolen to Yolk?)  (Sure enough, google provided me with the exact title of the book.  I also discovered something else, but I digress!)  Back to dauguerotype - we googled the word and listened as my friend M-W gave us a perfect pronunciation.  (I worry that we're raising a generation who do not know how to interpret the phonetic symbols to properly pronounce a word, but who am I kidding?  The only people who really care about those symbols are word nerds like me.)

Do you ever stumble across a word that just doesn't fit its meaning?  That happened to me yesterday when my friend M-W introduced me to a new-to-me word, pulchritude.  I couldn't believe the meaning of this word.  Physical comeliness???  The word doesn't sound beautiful.  And it doesn't look beautiful.  When I look at this word, I think of putrid and puke and belch.  Try fitting pulchritude into your next conversation about a beautiful person!

Do you ever stumble across a word that you love?  Serendipity is one of my favorites and skedaddle, and yesterday while reading Lizzie and the Lost Baby, higgledy-piggledy popped onto the page.  That's a perfect word if I ever heard one.  It makes me smile and giggle just looking at it.  And all those fun consonants just make for a word that sounds higgledy-piggledy!

Does the countdown to March strike fear into your heart?  This will be my fifth year, and I have no idea how I'll be able to write a slice of life every day.  But today's word wanderings provided several possibilities for future slices:
  • The students'  response to my comment that we had read a poem, a picture book and a short story - all in one period!
  • Wandering side roads and by roads with my friend M-W
  • The biography in my book bag of Noah Webster
  • A favorite high school graduation gift - my dictionary
  • Why I still like to look up words in the dictionary
  • From card catalogs to google searches - serendipity along the road to distraction
Do you wonder how on earth you'll be able to write for 31 days?  It happens, my friend, one day at a time.  Three pieces of advice:  Write down your random ideas, get inspired by fellow slicers, and enjoy the journey!  FYI - 13 days until March!


  1. This post is so filled with word joy! I love it when you digress. 😄 Great encouraging words for the challenge. Each year I wonder how I will do it, but it always seems to happen.

  2. Now pulchritude is a word stuck in my mind, and I will be looking for opportunities to use it, although it does somewhat sound like an insult! Looking forward to March slicing with you again, my friend!

  3. I love your advice, Ramona. I'm going to share it tonight during the #sol16 Twitter Chat!

  4. What fun, fun words! Thanks for the giggle as I read your slice, Ramona, and now I must skedaddle! :)

  5. I love words too! And I love your musings on words. :) You bring a sense of humor and adventure into your word gathering. I'm going to take you up on your idea of gathering story ideas now.

  6. This is great! I love your words! I have also begun a list of ideas for this month of writing. I always worry and always make it. Happy writing!

  7. I believe you are a woman of pulchritude! Actually, I know this word from older books like Austen's, fancy talk! And it's a great slice. Ingrid was here today & I read her a recent bio picture book of Webster. She was so interested that someone would spend a lifetime gathering words. Do you think I have a dictionary anymore to show her? No! We went to the library so she could see one. Do you get "Wordsmith", great words every week! (You've given me lots of ideas for slices, Ramona.)

  8. Love your lovely words and all of your advice by vicarious inspiration!

  9. Hi, I will try to join the 31 Days this year. I think I am going to start early though. I don't have a dictionary now. I use the online dictionaries. I will have to invest in one. PS thanks for stopping by and leaving your encouraging comment.